Proposals to cut the staffing levels at Rye station have been branded ludicrous by the local community rail partnership.
Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the Southern train operating company, announced plans earlier this month to make cuts at a number of railway stations, including those at Rye, on the Marshlink, in East Sussex.
Kevin Boorman, chair of the Marshlink community rail partnership, explained :- “Southern is consulting on changes at most of its staffed stations. In many cases the hours that a station is staffed will not change, although most booking offices will close and staff will be asked to carry out different customer care roles.
“However, in the case of Rye the proposals are even more severe. Currently the station is staffed 0540 – 1905 Monday – Saturday, and 0810-1545 on Sundays. Southern are proposing to cut this to 0600-1300 Monday – Saturday, and have no staff present at all on a Sunday.
“I honestly think this is ludicrous.
“Rye is a busy tourist town, with large numbers of visitors arriving at weekends, both day trippers, and staying visitors for Rye and Camber. To close early during the week is bad enough – many people arrive after 1300 – but to close early too on a Saturday and remain closed all day on Sunday seems crazy. Weekends can be at least as busy as the weekdays, and much busier in the summer. Many passengers may need assistance on arrival at the station, and some aren’t able to use the footbridge. For these mobility impaired passengers who have arrived on the down platform and need to travel back via Ashford it is a very long walk to return to the up platform, via the level crossing. This needs to be explained to them, and if they don’t allow enough time they could easily miss their train, especially as the level crossing barriers will be down.
“We are also trying to develop our own office at Rye station into a community hub. We can’t access our office if the station is not staffed, so the afternoon closure will really affect what we are able to do there.
“We are working really hard to get more people to travel by train, both residents and visitors. I am very concerned that these proposals, if adopted, will really affect people using Rye station, possibly further damaging its visitor economy. People just won’t expect a station like Rye to remain unstaffed all day on a Sunday.
“The consultation period is just three weeks, and closes on 26th July, so there is very little time for our views to be heard. I would urge everyone who might be affected by these changes to respond to the consultation, details of how to do this are at https://www.southernrailway.com/publicconsultation “
Photo credit: Martyn Gibbens Rye Station April 2023